Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 11
Personality traits/psychological theories: Gordon Allport (1937)(1) argued that traits are a central concept in personality, building on European research and theory (Matthews and Deary 1998)(2). Researchers have measured a variety of specific traits, such as field dependence, sensation-seeking and achievement motivation, predicting specific behaviours from domain-specific personality tests. The trait concept suffered a setback when Walter Mischel (1968)(3) pointed out that situations were more influential than traits in predicting behaviour. This situational challenge to the trait paradigm came with the rise of social psychology and decline of personality psychology, as sub-fields in psychology. See >Situations/Mischel, >Situations/Murray.
Mischel himself later offered a conceptually more sophisticated, interactionist version of trait theory in which the effect of a person’s trait depends upon the situational context of behaviour (Mischel and Shoda 1995)(4).



1. Allport, G. W. 1937. Personality: a psychological interpretation. New York: Holt
2. Matthews, G. and Deary, I. J. 1998. Personality traits. Cambridge University Press
3. Mischel, W. 1968. Personality and assessment. New York: Wiley
4. Mischel, W. and Shoda, Y. 1995. A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: reconceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure, Psychological Review 102: 246–68


Susan Cloninger, “Conceptual issues in personality theory”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-05-21
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